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White Rock officer ‘spreading her wings’
It’s a police file Janelle Shoihet will never forget.
“Every time I drive across the Alex Fraser Bridge, I think about Wade,” the White Rock constable said, referring to Wade MacKenzie, the subject of a missing-persons file that landed on her desk in 2008.
“That file was so impactful on my career as a police officer. Every time I think about what have I done here in White Rock… that’s kind of the one file I’ll take with me.”
MacKenzie, 23, was reported missing on Jan. 16, 2008. As the days and weeks passed, clues to blue-eyed man’s disappearance were found – his car was located in New Westminster, and witnesses recalled spotting him outside the Great Pacific Forum in Delta early the next morning.
But it would be nearly two years before Shoihet could close the file, and it was not the ending anyone had hoped for.
Evidence was found that led police to conclude that the young man was dead. At the family’s request, how that determination was made was not made public.
Thinking back on her seven years at the White Rock RCMP detachment – much of it as media liaison – Shoihet knows no matter where her career takes her, the MacKenzie case will follow.
“I just felt like what I was doing was making a difference to (his family). I wish something different had happened.”
Friday (Sept. 20) is Shoihet’s last day in White Rock, where she has been stationed ever since graduating from depot.
Spreading her wings “to see what else is out there,” she starts with the the Mounties’ Serious and Organized Crime unit – operating out of E Division the new Green Timbers headquarters – on Oct. 9.
The integrated unit investigates all manner of organized crimes; files range from commercial crime and border threats to the impact of illicit drugs.
The latter is one of Shoihet’s passions. She cited an experience she had as a coffee-shop manager in Vancouver as a driving factor in her decision to become a police officer.
Looking into a customer complaint about being unable to access the shop’s public washroom, Shoihet discovered a woman passed out on the floor with a syringe stuck in her arm. She remembers wondering if the woman was dead, and wanting to prevent anyone else from ending up in the same position.
It’s a key reason why she has been particularly passionate about teaching elementary school children in White Rock how to live drug- and violence-free. Earlier this year, her dedication to that effort was recognized with an award presented by the Mounties’ Drugs & Organized Crime Awareness Service.
A drug bust the same month (April) is another file that stands out in Shoihet’s memories. That was when police responding to a report of an assault in a home near Earl Marriott Secondary discovered a cache of approximately 8,000 homemade marijuana cookies.
“The cookie file – that was a good one,” she said, grinning at the memory.
Shoihet said she has lived a lifetime in her seven years at the local detachment.
In addition to building up her policing experience investigating the likes of frauds, kidnappings and sexual assaults, it is where she met her husband (who now works with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit). She also became a mom during her time at the detachment.
“This is where it all started,” she said.
While she is looking forward to the new experiences that lie ahead, Shoihet said she is “a bit torn” about leaving.
“It’s a bit of excitement for doing something new, but then you build a lot of things, you work hard to make things successful and programs successful.
“I’m afraid and scared and all those things, but I’m looking forward to it.”